Incoming pharmacy dean recognized with Creative Research and Scholarship Award

Published: April 06, 2017
Updated: June 21, 2017
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When a new medication comes to market, Richard Hansen wants to ensure it is safe and effective.

“Drugs are complex. We assume that drugs on the market have a tremendous volume of research and that we know everything there is about the use of those drugs,” Hansen said. “However, the reality is that there is some information that we do not know. That is really what I’ve focused my work on, helping to address some of those questions.”

Hansen, a department head and the Gilliland Professor in the Department of Health Outcomes Research and Policy in the Harrison School of Pharmacy, recently received the Creative Research and Scholarship Award for his work focused on population-level assessment of the benefits and risks of drug treatments. He has been named dean of the Harrison School of Pharmacy effective May 15.

His research uses resources from programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross and Blue Shield that provide anonymous medical records that Hansen’s team analyzes. With these, he cross references the success of new drugs on the market and discovers new findings on medications that have yet to be fully tested.

“What we’ve been able to do is turn that data into meaningful information. We try to capture the full extent of a drugs risk and benefit profile at the population level,” Hansen said. “When looking at one patient it is pretty difficult, but looking across millions of patients you can start to see associations that otherwise may not be evident.”

Over the last 7 years at Auburn, Hansen’s work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, the National Pharmaceutical Council, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Hansen said his team continuously submits grants and looks ahead to its next project.

“I felt that if we were really going to advance the field, we needed to push the envelope for receiving grants,” Hansen said.

“We ask ourselves how to reinvent the wheel and figure out how to keep that program going. It’s fun.”

He has been published in multiple medical journals and aims to reach audiences outside of the pharmacy discipline.

“It helps spread my information to people that may be the most impactful in making decisions,” Hansen said. “I think that is part of the tactic that I use. I target the audiences that might be able to use this information in different ways such as doctors or policy makers.”

Beyond his research work, Hansen serves on various committees, is a member of professional associations and mentors graduate pharmacy students.

“I try to get graduate students to think about questions that are meaningful to them and their career pursuits,” Hansen said. “Sometimes, that is the hardest thing. I make them think a little bit ahead of finishing their degree and figure out what is going to make them passionate about their careers.”

Hansen said he is thankful for the Creative Research and Scholarship Award because it shows that his work is valued.

“Overall I think we all work really hard but rarely celebrate each other’s success, so it is good to have a program to celebrate not just someone’s award but the success of everybody involved,” Hansen said.

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